RIFF: An effort to revive Rajasthani Folk Culture

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New Delhi, Sep 28 (UNI) Music maestros Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Pandit Krishna Mohan Bhatt will perform at the first Rajasthan International Folk Festival(RIFF) in Jodhpur from October 25-29.

The festival aimed at reviving Rajansthani folk music, besides featuring well know folk artistes, would also have leading rock-fusion band "Indian Ocean" and international band "Tarhana".

It is organised jointly by Jaipur Virasat Foundation and Mehrangarh Museum Trust.

Speaking at a press conference here yesterday, Founding Trustee of Jaipur Virasat Foundation Faith Singh said, "a minimum of 150 folk musicians from different parts of Rajasthan will be taking part in the festival along with 50 international artistes." The festival, which coincides with "Sharad Poornima", is being held at Mehrangarh fort, which has been voted the 'Best Fort in Asia' by Time Magazine, Ms Singh said.

Former Jodhpur Maharaja Gaj Singh, who was also present at the press conference, said, "It is a fact that culture is a powerful economic tool. Musicians of Rajasthan are custodians of some of the most vibrant folk traditions in India. We have been supporting them at other festivals for some years now and it was a natural extension to bring them back to Mehrangarh, which has been recently voted the 'Best Fort in Asia'." "We want musicians from Rajasthan to perform in an environment that is non-traditional, so we have invited several national and international musical greats to perform along with them on the same stage," Mr Singh added.

Speaking about the venue, he said it was his aim to bring the Mehrangarh Fort alive for which he set up the Mehrangarh Museum Trust in 1970.

The Museum is a repository of the artistic and cultural history of the large area of the Central Rajasthan, Marwar-Jodhpur, ruled by the Rathore dynasty. It also boasts of one of the best preserved collections of fine and applied arts from the Mughal period, he added.

The Trust has been actively promoting classical and folk music and organises eight to ten concerts at the Fort and in the city each year, Mr Singh added.

At present, the fort receives about 130,000 international tourists and millions of domestic tourists. The fort has been a venue to various music festivals in the past too.

Mr Singh said such festivals come under the umbrella title of 'Festivals for Development' because of their underlying aim to reposition traditional arts and crafts on the world stage, thereby creating new livelihood opportunities for the incredibly talented performing artists and craftspeople of Rajasthan.

Today, these artists face poverty on account of a range of factors such as loss of traditional patronage and the erosion of rural communities and they are finding themselves increasingly marginalised in a new global world-order that fails to include them.

The objectives of RIFF might be serious, but the festival is primarily an opportunity for artists, local audiences and international visitors to have fun. In putting together the first Jodhpur RIFF, the aim has been to shake off the formality that surrounds many encounters with traditional music-making and to showcase the vitality, colour and the energy of Rajasthan and its vibrant culture, he said.

Perched high above the surrounding landscape, Mehrangarh Fort that normally remains closed after nightfall, will open its doors for four nights for India's first annual roots music festival.

UNI

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